Sumo wrestling is a unique sport in that all the athletes have enormous amounts of fat with most weighing well over 300 pounds (136kg). When you think of a typical athlete sumo wrestlers with their giant bellies and rolls of fat don’t immediately spring to mind. But why are sumo wrestlers so big? Do they just like eating food or do they not train hard enough? Let’s find out!
Why Are Sumo Wrestlers Fat?
Sumo wrestlers are fat because their large mass makes it incredibly difficult for their opponents to push them out of the ring or knock them off balance. Their size also allows them to generate incredible amounts of power when they are attacking and driving their opponents out of the ring.
Who would you try rather try and push backwards or knock to the ground a 130 pound man or a 300 pound man? The answer is obviously a 130 pound man. Even if you hit the 300 pound man with everything you had unless you weigh a similar weight the man is unlikely to move very much.
This is essentially the principle behind why sumo wrestlers are fat and weigh so much. In sumo there is no weight classes so athletes attempt to get as big as possible to make it extremely challenging for their opponents to move the around the ring.
The extra fat sumo wrestlers possess doesn’t just help defensively it also allows them to generate significantly more power than the average man. If you have ever watched a weightlifting competition you will notice that athletes in the heavyweight class are able to life much more weight than lighter athletes. This is because larger people are capable of producing more force.
The same principle applies to sumo. The bigger and heavier a sumo wrestler is the more power he can exert. Obviously to generate maximum power a sumo wrestler has to use ideal technique and there is a limit where excess weight can reduce mobility and athleticism.
However, top sumo wrestlers on average weight 350 pounds and they have found this is optimal weight where they are still athletic, healthy, are incredibly difficult to push backwards and can generate maximum force.
Sumo wrestlers are fat because it enhances their performance in the sumo ring (Dohyo). This may be strange to some people who associate athletes with being slim and visibly muscular there are actually a number of sports where athletes need to weigh a lot and have a high fat percentage.
The athletes most similar to sumo wrestlers are offensive and defensive tacklers in American football. Offensive and defensive tacklers are also incredibly heavy and have a high fat percentage. NFL lineman tend to be taller than the average sumo wrestler (6ft 5 vs 6ft 1) and weigh a little less (320 pounds vs 350 pounds).
Both sumo wrestlers and NFL lineman show people that being fat is no obstacle to being athletic and is you play the right sport can actually enhance your performance!
How Fat Are Sumo Wrestlers?
Sumo wrestlers are on average 6f1 and weigh 350 pounds (159kg). Sumo wrestlers’ have a body fat percentage of between 25% and 30%. The fattest active sumo wrestler is Ichinojo who weighs 500 pounds (227kg).
The average top division (Makuuchi) sumo wrestler stands at 6ft1 (183.4cm) and weighs 360 pounds (163.9kg). The average second division (Juryo) sumo wrestler stands at 6ft1 (183.4cm) and weighs 351 pounds (159.8kg).
The heaviest top division (Makuuchi) sumo wrestler is Ichinojo who weighs 500 pounds (227kg). The heaviest second division (Juryo) sumo wrestler is Mitoryu who weighs 440 pounds (200kg).
The lightest top division (Makuuchi) sumo wrestler is Enho who weighs 218 pounds (99kg). The lightest second division (Juryo) sumo wrestler is Wakatakakage 275 pounds (125kg).
Why Are Sumo Wrestlers Fat Instead Of Muscular?
Sumo wrestlers are fat instead of muscular because their is a limit to how much muscle the human body can put on whereas fat is easier to gain. Sumo wrestlers are actually very muscular but the fat is covering their muscles and have an average FFM of 0.61kg per cm (0.7kg is human limit).
We have already established that sumo wrestlers need to be extremely heavy with the average professional weighing around 350 pounds. However, building this 350 pound physique is incredibly difficult and takes years of religious training and eating.
The human body does not want to gain muscle easily. Anyone who has stepped into a gym knows that even putting on small amounts of muscle is a long and difficult journey. To prove this next time your at the gym look around and see how many people actually look muscular.
Sumo wrestlers do their best to put on as much muscle as possible but quickly max out their genetic potential. However, fat is much easier to put on than muscle. So what sumo wrestlers do is continue eat in a calorie surplus, train super hard and as the years go on they keep adding small amounts of muscle and large amounts of fat until they finally reach their ideal sumo weight somewhere around 350 pounds.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that sumo wrestlers are all fat but this not true at all. In fact sumo wrestlers are some of the most heavily muscle bound athletes in the world. A research study actually found that sumo wrestlers have a Fat Free Mass/Height ratio of on average 0.61 kg/cm, with the highest being 0.66 kg/cm.
The human limit is estimated to be 0.7 kg/cm which clearly shows that sumo wrestlers are incredibly muscular but of course most of their muscles are covered up by fat. The average sumo wrestler has a body fat percentage of between 25% and 30%, muscles are typically clearly visible at around the 15% body fat mark and professional bodybuilders even get down to 5% for shows.
Sumo wrestlers build muscle and their massive physique through an incredibly strict diet and grueling training.